Saturday, October 18, 2008

Musée d'art contemporain, Lyon

The MAC, huddled in the commercial district of the sleepy French city of Lyon, rivals even the Whitney in NYC in terms of breadth and scope. Surprising for adorably quaint Lyon, although it is the second largest city in France. Three floors of expositions and a courtyard later, I found myself in the exhilirating and completely new position of being the artistic authority to my homestay family. But how can one possibly explain contemporary art-- all its shock, its glamourous enigma, its sheer weirdness-- to someone who doesn't feel the same exhiliration? A strange thing. I said something like, "It isn't about the love of the art as it is about the experience of it," which is a really crappy explanation, because I for one adore it, and not only the experience thereof.

My favorite of this musée impressionante was a South African artist named Kendell Geers. As almost everything I like, he is EPIC. Graphic and textual, he references other oeuvres of modern art in his own. My favorite, for example, is quite simple: black ink background with sharp typewritten-style text, "THISISNOTAFUCKINGPIPE." Clearly a reference to Magritte's infamous "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," something I was excited to point out to my Lyon homestay family. Kendell Geers uses the word 'fuck' to such an extent that it loses its power. For example, there is a drawing of him replacing the infamous late 20th-century "Love" sculpture with the word 'fuck.' Is this a treatise on the treachery of words? Is he following the illogical logic of René Magritte or in direct opposition to him? Hard to say. An example:


Other themes: America. Geers hates it, of course with good reason. Which of course caused me to like Geers that much more. And another theme, tying with the former: sexuality. An oversexed woman in ink, nude, probably masturbating, is displayed with the words, "THISISNOTAMERICA." Also: Religion. Religious symbols are covered in red and white tape (everything from Jesus on the cross to Buddha to Brahma to African fertility sculptures to Lara Croft), giving them a look of raw muscle.


Crosses and stars of david are produced on the wall with objects of police brutality, hitting sticks and such. A cathedral is reproduced with the sharpest barbed wire I have ever seen, with a mirror as the floor and a guard telling you, in full seriousness, to keep your hands to yourself lest you be pricked. And then a room in blacklight, with the seven deadly sins written on the wall in strange graphic patterns, a cartesian graph of sorts forming out of the letters of each. Etonnant, bien sur!

1 comment:

L.Z.H. said...

You odorous fool.